Surprise and Delight from Smartphones

“Perhaps it’s not fair to expect surprise and delight from smartphones anymore.”
Kirby Ferguson

OpenCulture pointed me to a video by Kirby Ferguson, who shows how much the iPhone took from existing technology. This technology was remixed it in a hard to beat package. While the first iPhone took a lot from sources other than smartphones or cellphones of the day (e.g., everyday objects like sliders, buttons, typewriter, etc.) and was thus surprising and delightful, the iOS7 update instead took a lot from other smartphones (Android, Windows, etc.). As a result, the update is not that surprising.

He ends the video with remarking that it has become harder to delight and surprise the user, but that taking “influences from more surprising and delightful sources would probably help”, but that “Perhaps it’s not fair to expect surprise and delight from smartphones anymore.”

Frankly, I disagree. Look at an iPhone and you see a lot of Apps. They are like bugs (the insects) — each working alone. Sure, you can access them easily and even via one speech interface and perhaps even transfer some data (à la “Open in …”), but they are separate creatures.

Now image what would happen if you could all work together on your data, your information, your goals.

Just imagine what a service similar to “If this, then that” could do on a smartphone. If you could make the apps talk to each other. Today, the creative power of the apps is separated. But if they would work together, the separated bugs would become an hive — a directed hive.

All you need are some very smart developers to open up the Apps this way and come up with APIs. And it would require a policy change at Apple (uh-oh, that would require taking a creative risk). But the things this could achieve … if done right …

Hmmm … it might just do the job of combining surprise and delight.